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Who to talk to in your brand.

by Abby Kerr

in Uncategorized

About this column

“I want to know who I should be talking to in my brand.”

When Tami and I access a new client intake diagnostic from our Empathy Marketing Discovery Portal, one of the first statements we most frequently see is, “I want to know who I’m talking to in my brand.”

Photo by lovemaegan courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons Attribution License.We LOVE seeing this statement because it shows us the client is mature enough to make her business about her Right People.

She’s ready to step out of her own shoes and into the shoes of another. She’s willing to see the world through someone else’s eyes. She’s invested in making sure her business’s solution gets presented in the way that speaks to the true needs and the core desires of her Right Person.

But just who IS that Right Person?

From a sea of nameless, faceless ‘Unique Visitors’ in Google Analytics, to the best client you’ve ever worked with, to the guy who obsessively hits Like on all your Facebook page posts — how do you know who you should be talking to in your blog posts, through your web copy, and via your tweets?

The clearest answer to that question is: the person Most Likely To Buy your products and services.

Now, this is the answer we give to businesses — entities that exist to provide value in exchange for currency. This may sound obvious, but I’m defining what a business is because so many start-up personality-driven online ventures these days seem to have forgotten what a business must do: provide value to a segment of the market, in exchange for currency. Solve real problems. Be available to serve in whatever way they define, in the context of something bigger than their own ego gratification.

Two missteps I see microbusiness owners making in their brands that will keep Right People at bay:

→ Misstep No. 1: Blogging for themselves rather than for readers.

By this I mean, posts in which the business owner is creating content to soothe, heal, justify, or explain himself. (Sometimes we end up helping ourselves as a byproduct of focusing on our Right Person; other times, not.) The risk of self-focused, self-helping content is getting your brand, your message, and your Right People off-track. The cumulative effect of a lot of off-trackness is a diffuse, unfocused, unclear Brand Proposition.

The stumbling block here is the assumption that the reader is as interested in your own personal process of growth and development as you are. Navel-gazing and diaristic posts, while they may be eyebrow-raising, don’t necessarily help your Right Person move along to where he wants to go.

This does NOT mean don’t use your own life as anecdotal material. If you’re a marriage and family coach, YES, we want to hear the story of your divorce and subsequent moving in with your new partner and stepkids. It helps provide context for your work and gives you even more credibility (“oh, she’s been through it herself”). If you make vegan pet biscuits, by all means please tell us that you developed the recipe for your own pets because you believe eating a plant-based diet is best for all creatures, including our furry four-legged friends.

Blogging for readers means using your own experiences as supporting material to assist readers in their own journey rather than using your life as the focus of the brand.

→ Misstep No. 2: Blogging for peers rather than for the Person Most Likely To Buy.

If you’re a boutique owner, and you blog about the ins and outs of owning an online boutique, by nature of social shares and unintended SEO, your site will attract people who want to be boutique owners, want to pick your brain for all your shop-dazzling ideas, and may or may not be inclined to buy the wares you’re actually selling.

If you’re a life coach and you blog about the process of building your life coaching practice, you’ll attract fellow life coaches or aspiring ones who need guidance and resources for building their own practice. Whatever content you give people to share (i.e. blog posts, videos, pins) will get shared, and so you’ll get more of the same type of reader who was attracted to the initial content.

Google will semantically align you with the topics you most often write about. So if you’re inadvertently using the phrase “building my life coaching practice” three times a month on your blog, Google will say, “A-ha! She helps life coaches build their practices!” and will serve you up in search results for people looking for that.

Blog and create your brand for potential buyers, not for people doing the same thing you do. Caveat: blogging for potential buyers does NOT have to be sales-y. It can be: teach-y or preachy if that’s your style, a demonstration, an infographic, an image you create and brand, a list, a short video, a video you share from someone else with personalized commentary from you, etc.

The long and short of it is: you only have so much time to create content and so many precious online seconds to make an impact on your Right Person with your brand.

We are huge proponents of taking the clear, efficient, integrity-based road toward true, meaningful connection by designing your brand to meet core needs and respond to true desires — those of your Right People.

In the comments, we’d love to hear:

What type of blog content has been most successful for you in connecting with your Right People — those who then go on to buy your services and products? What have you found your people respond to best?

(Photo credit.)

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Corrina Gordon-Barnes February 13, 2013 at 3:03 pm

I find my Right People respond best to two things:

1) when I explore ethical issues
2) when I get very transparent about things I find hard

– and ideally when these are one and the same!

I think this helps them feel safe enough to reach out and connect and ultimately buy. They feel more aligned with me; I’m a fellow human on the journey of self-employment, sharing my learnings with them from a place of equality and openness.

And my peers also happen to enjoy these too – and it makes it easier for them to share me with others – but as you say, we don’t write for our peers, that’s just a bonus :)


Abby Kerr February 13, 2013 at 3:14 pm

Hi, Corrina —

Thanks for breaking in the Comments section on this one! ;)

Ooh, I love that you take on ethical issues and difficult topics in your space, and do such with such centeredness and strength. Microbusiness ethics are an under-talked about topic, in my opinion. Thanks for keeping those lines of communication open!

And congrats on your gorgeous new site launch. Just queued it up for a tweet later today. :)


Alison February 14, 2013 at 2:10 am

You’ve hit the nail on the head, Abby.

I sometimes find it kind of heartbreaking when I come across a new site, and find that the business owner is really blogging her own journey (often, her own struggles). It doesn’t usually sit well with making a living through helping or advising other people – for one thing, there’s not much space available for the prospective customer to be heard.


Abby Kerr February 14, 2013 at 12:15 pm

I agree with all you said here, Alison. Blogging can be an entirely personal and cathartic pursuit (and it can be wonderful when sharing/connecting/personal catharsis is the goal), but I think it takes real thoughtfulness and skill to position a personal blog in the context of a business with a strong Value Proposition.


Erica Holthausen February 17, 2013 at 6:03 pm

This is a great question, Abby. The truth is, I’m still exploring what works best and really resonates with my right people. It’s been a bit of a tricky journey, in part because I lost my voice. I read so much about copywriting, headlines and how to structure a blog post that my writing no longer conveyed my personality. It didn’t sound like me, and I don’t think it resonated with anyone. So, I stopped reading about copywriting and started to write. As a result, I am writing regularly and that is giving me an opportunity to connect with my right people. So, I’ve got the first step down.

But I also struggle a bit because I write a column for an online magazine and I write for my own blog. On my blog, I tend to share my personal experiences as teaching tools. In my column, my pieces are less personal and more tactical, how-to pieces. For now, I guess that’s a part of my experiment to learn which types of post resonate best with my right people.

Thank you for this post, Abby. This gives me a great deal to think about!


Abby Kerr February 18, 2013 at 10:15 am

Hi, Erica —

Oh, I empathize. It’s a tricky balance to strike: between allowing as much of YOU into your brand convo as you want to and feels right, and keeping the focus on your Right Person’s needs and interests. And YES with the copywriting how-to articles. I find those really valuable as a professional copywriter myself, but I’ve often wondered how they go over with people who don’t write for a living. I can imagine they could feel very restrictive and limiting.

I’m so glad to hear you’re exploring your voice and finding out what’s strongest and most comfortable for you. I really appreciate you contributing here!


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